Girl in Afghanistan

A little girl in Afghanistan with a scarf on the head and a pink bag with a half naked Disney princess on the back. Two very different sets of norms for female appearance and values combined.

Children in Kabul

Children in Kabul

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The power of colours

From the second we are born, the process of shaping us as women and men begins.

Norwegian children's books. The pink is for "tough girls", and the blue for "tough boys".

Norwegian children’s books. The pink is for “tough girls”, and the blue for “tough boys”.

(Yes, there are many theories about what is nature and what is nurture, but the fact is that there is no society today which is gender neutral. Hence, we do not know to what extent we could have been gender neutral if there were no norms about how girls and boys should behave.)

Girls are wrapped in pink blankets, and boys in blue. But it was not always like that, as The Forgotten History Blog describes. However, today, pink is considered to be feminine, cute, dainty, and is related to characteristics which “good girls” are taught: obedience, gentleness, sensitivity to emotions, considerations for others, non-selfishness, etc. However, girls and women can use blue without being mocked.

Boys, on the other hand, are taught to be tough, strong, and society accept that they are rowdy, loud, careless, and somewhat egoistic. Boys are told not to “be a girl”, to “man up”, and to “not be a mama’s boy”. Very few boys or men use pink, as femininity in men as a rule is frowned upon.

Aren’t both stereotypes just as limiting for any child’s development, and can’t they alienate individuals with other characteristics and traits than those encouraged for their particular sex? I believe so.